Everybody knows university is the optimal space to gain new experiences, obtain ground-breaking knowledge and start to learn about yourself, what you want out of life and for your future. These three facets of university – experience, knowledge and self-discovery – are what I believe make university so great.
The fact that there is an institution in society that simultaneously teaches people what they’re passionate about, educates them about their passions and also provides them with so many opportunities to explore and develop themselves is incredible. And I love being part of it.
But that’s a lot to do in your time at university. And you can’t do it alone. That’s where students can find the value of finding mentors comes in. Mentors in university can be found everywhere – in the classroom, in your residence building, administrative offices etc.
The folks at Indiana University provide the following basic definition for the term “mentor”: a special kind of helper who works with others in a positive, constructive way so that both mentor and protégé have the potential to grow through the relationship.
In September, I’m starting my new job with the Lion’s Den as the Peer Mentor and Communications Assistant – so I’m going be working with the Lion’s Den volunteers to help them develop as leaders and mentors – and in my thinking of how to help people become great mentors, I have been thinking a lot about my own mentors.
Throughout my university career, I feel like I have had many mentors – people I look up to and learn from. There are certain people I know when I go to talk to them, there is a big chance I will walk away from that conversation with something new to think about related to my career, my interests or even life.
In the classroom, I have had numerous professors that have opened my mind to new ways of thinking. Some of my profs have completely changed how I view my career path. I’ve specifically changed my schedule around to take courses with certain professors because I know I will learn so much from them. My professors not only taught me valuable information, but also helped me see how I can apply all this knowledge to my life. Without them, I know that my knowledge I use in my advocacy work when it comes to the queer community, the disability community, education, communications and leadership would not be as wide as it is now.
In my jobs on campus, I’ve been blessed to have some of the greatest bosses and supervisors ever. Without this group of hardworking individuals, I would not have as strong a passion for social media, leadership, higher education and community development – much less have any idea that I could pursue a career that combines all these.
And as a person I have developed so much. I guess I’m lucky to have worked so closely with student affairs staff as values, goals and self discovery are all major parts of this career path. Due to this, I have had incredible opportunities to participate in numerous visioning, goal setting and reflection activities that have deepened my understanding of who I am as a person.
In university, you will be exposed to many people – people you can learn from, people that will make your experience amazing, and people you will grow from your interactions with them. Seek out mentors in university. Seek out those people that can help you develop as a person, a student and as an active participant in your communities.